Mar
04
2008

Is Critical Journalism Incomprehensible to NPR?

Correspondent mocked Iraqi colleague who asked about immunity

A recent NPR news segment (Weekend Edition, 2/23/08) that dismissed an Iraqi journalist's question about the pressing issue of U.S. immunity from prosecution suggests that critical journalism may be a foreign language to the public radio broadcaster. On its website, NPR summarized the segment as a look at U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey's Baghdad news conference, which featured questions from "enthusiastic and sometimes incomprehensible Iraqi reporters." The lead example NPR cited of such an "incomprehensible" question was actually a perfectly sensible one--posed, through a translator, by a journalist for Radio Sawa, a U.S. government-funded radio station in Iraq: "A question […]

Nov
01
2001

The Illusion of Balance

NPR's coverage of Mideast deaths doesn't match reality

National Public Radio's coverage of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict has been the target of criticism from all sides, especially since the start of the Palestinian uprising in September 2000. One common complaint from both pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian critics is that NPR and other outlets downplay or ignore acts of violence by the "other side." For example, a press release (8/12/01) from CAMERA, a conservative pro-Israel media watch group, accused NPR of skimming over the killing of a Jewish settler in a news report that focused on the funeral of a Palestinian Hamas activist killed by Israeli security forces. Similarly, Arab-American media […]

Jun
01
2000

PSYOPS in the Newsroom

Extra! Update June 2000

CNN got nervous when reports in European publications (Amsterdam's Trouw, 2/21/00, 2/25/00; Intelligence Newsletter, 2/17/00) revealed that PSYOPS (Psychological Operations) spe­cialists from the U.S. Army had worked as interns at the cable network's Atlanta news headquarters. The program was ter­minated after its existence was revealed in Trouw, and network president Eason Jordan appeared on Pacifica Radio's Democracy Now! (3/24/00) to play down its significance. But it was only after hun­dreds of media activists, responding to a March 27 FAIR action alert, wrote to CNN asking for an explanation that the media giant issued a formal statement acknowledging that the intern […]

Apr
01
1997

If Censorship Is Good Enough for NPR...

Mumia Abu-Jamal Silenced Once More

Mumia Abu-Jamal

Pennsylvania has abused the First Amendment in its efforts to keep journalists, particularly electronic journalists, away from Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Sep
01
1993

Importing British Censorship from Northern Ireland

An executive order bans from the BBC's airwaves direct statements by members and apparent sympathizers of groups the British government considers "terrorists." The broadcast ban was applied to three legal organizations, including one whose president was elected member of the British Parliament. When soliciting pledges, U.S. public TV and radio hosts often boast about the British news programming that they bring to U.S. airwaves. What they don't say is that such programming sometimes comes with British censorship. The British Broadcasting Corporation is a fully funded government agency, with a board of directors appointed by the Queen (under government recommenda­tion). No […]

Apr
01
1993

A Study of National Public Radio

NPR Logo

When founded two decades ago, National Public Radio defined itself as an independent alternative to mainstream commercial broadcasting. Unlike the corporate giants, NPR would “promote personal growth rather than corporate gain,” and “not only call attention to a problem, but be an active agent in seeking solutions,” according to the network’s 1971 mission statement. To this day, public radio fundraisers urge listeners, “Get the facts as you really can’t get them on commercial television” (WBUR, 10/21/92). And on many occasions, National Public Radio provides its listeners with exactly this—fuller, deeper news and a wider range of views. But a detailed […]

Apr
01
1993

NPR's Fresh Air

"Extremist" Author Silenced for Lack of "Moderate" Opponent

Shortly after a favorable review of his book on Jewish settlers in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Zealots for Zion, appeared in the New York Times Book Review (1/10/93), Village Voice reporter Robert I. Friedman was invited to discuss the book on Fresh Air, an interview-format show distributed by NPR. The interview was taped on January 27 and was to be broadcast later that day. Promos advertised the upcoming segment. But Fresh Air never aired the interview. Robert I. Friedman says he was told that some of the views he expressed, like saying that some settlers view Arabs as less than […]

Apr
01
1993

An NPR Report on Dioxin

How "Neutral" Experts Can Slant a Story

FAIR's four-month study of National Public Radio found that All Things Considered and Morning Edition devoted less than 2 percent of stories -- 45out of 2,296 -- to the environment. This parallels commercial broadcasting trends, where coverage of the environment has been declining since 1990 (Tyndall Report1/92). Here, as in other subject areas, NPR tended to follow commercial journalistic conventions. Most commonly (38 percent of cases), the lead source for environmental stories was a government official. Journalists and academic experts accounted for another 20 percent of lead sources, and were the most likely to be quoted at length. Corporate spokespeople […]